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Local News

  • Council updates strategic priorities

    The Los Alamos County Council held a work session Saturday to update its priorities for 2016. The end result – to be voted on at and upcoming session – was the adoption of three new goals, one new priority and two modifications.
    Councilor Steve Girrens suggested the three new goals.
    Two related to Department of Energy land transfers to the county.
    In the category of Economic Vitality, “Maximize utilization of county-owned land” was added as both a focus area and a strategic goal. Under Quality Governance/Intergovernmental Relations, “Actively pursue land transfers” was added as a strategic goal.
    According to Girrens, his third proposal addressed “the elephant in the room.”
    Under Quality governance/Operational Excellence, Girrens suggested adding “Establish and implement a mechanism for effective utility policy review and setting.”
    “We’ve got major utility policy things that need to be addressed, and I think we need to make that a priority,” Girrens said.

  • LAPS to revisit consolidation in White Rock

    The Los Alamos School Board recently came to the conclusion that if any decision is made about school consolidation in White Rock, it will have to include Mountain Elementary, in Los Alamos.
    Piñon Elementary School, Chamisa Elementary School and Mountain Elementary Schools are the last schools in need of renovation. Since the mid-2000s, the county has held bond elections to fund school renovations. Schools renovations so far have included Los Alamos High School, Aspen Elementary School and Los Alamos Middle School. All three are in Los Alamos.
    This fall during public input sessions, one option considered was to combine Piñon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary in White Rock.
    Though the school board eventually decided in favor of funding an “education specifications” study with an eye instead toward renovating Barranca Mesa Elementary in Los Alamos, the board publicly made a promise to White Rock residents that it would revisit the consolidation, since many White Rock residents were concerned and upset that the consolidation option was being considered.
    At the time, many White Rock residents spoke out against consolidating the two schools, fearing it would lead to overcrowded classrooms, limited education resources for their children and other problems.

  • Group seeks change in capital outlay funding

    In 1977, a group of New Mexico legislators had an idea. Rather than have each legislator’s infrastructure funding project wind its way through the legislature as a separate bill, why not put them all together into one bill?
    The logic behind grouping all those projects together (accomplished through the Senate Finance Committee) was that not only would each legislator actually get a “present” for their district, but theoretically, the state’s infrastructure would be maintained in a uniform, efficient manner.
    “The idea was, everybody gets a project, we’re going to put all of this into one big bill, everybody gets a present… and it passed unanimously,” said Kristina Fisher, associate director of Think New Mexico, a self-described nonpartisan think tank based in Santa Fe.
    What could possibly be wrong with that?
    Plenty, if you ask Fisher and her colleagues at Think New Mexico.
    Recently, Fisher spoke at a January legislative forum in Los Alamos about what it is they want to do about “The Christmas Tree Bill,” the nickname legislators now call the bill that funds and maintains the state’s infrastructure through grouping all those capital outlay projects together.

  • Today in history Jan. 27
  • REAL ID showdown set in GOP-controlled New Mexico House

    SANTA FE (AP) — A Republican-sponsored bill aimed at putting New Mexico in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act is scheduled to go before the full House despite objections from immigrant advocates and an uncertain future in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    The proposal moved through two committees in the first week of the 30-day legislative session, highlighting anxieties lawmakers have about the future of the state's driver's licenses. The GOP-led House is expected to take it up Wednesday.

    Last year, the U.S Department of Homeland Security said New Mexico wouldn't get another extension to meet strict REAL ID mandates. Some military installations have announced they would no longer accept New Mexico driver's licenses for entry.

    The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities. New Mexico has no such requirement and allows immigrants to get state driver's licenses regardless of legal status.

  • HB33 Mill Levy ballot approved

     By a very wide margin, residents of Los Alamos County voted to sustain the property tax levy that has supplied the Los Alamos School District with nearly $2 million in funds almost every year since 1988.

    According to County Clerk Sharon Stone, 4,095 Los Alamos residents voted for the levy, and 1,698 voted against it. 

    Upon hearing the vote, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus thanked the voters of Los Alamos.

    “Thank you to the parents and the voters of Los Alamos, we appreciate the support and we’ll be prudent with the money,” he said.

    Steinhaus said he sees it as a vote of confidence for the schools, teachers, administration and all involved.

    The mill levy question is put before voters every six years. It’s primary purpose is to help the school district purchase athletic equipment and educational tools that it would otherwise have to fund by using its Operational Fund monies. 

  • Plan calls for boosting forest restoration around New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — More than 140 square miles of overgrown, fire-prone areas around New Mexico have been thinned over the last several years, but state forestry officials are telling lawmakers they need more funding to continue the work.

    The Forestry Division is seeking another $4 million in capital funds to expand a statewide watershed restoration program.

    Acting State Forester Eddie Tudor told members of a House committee Monday that his agency is on track to complete several projects by the end of the year.

    However, he says there are more areas that still need to be treated, including parts of the Santa Fe watershed.

    Tudor says both state and federal land managers will be meeting this spring to identify other projects that have the potential to improve water quality and benefit entire landscapes.

  • Winter storm warning in effect for parts of New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A winter storm warning is in effect for parts of New Mexico until noon Tuesday due to snow accumulations near Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

    The National Weather Service says snow accumulations ranging from 7 to 18 inches are possible, mainly on higher eastern slopes. The highest amounts are expected west and north of Las Vegas.

    Snowfall is forecast to diminish by midday, though roads and highways likely will still be covered by snow and ice through the morning.

    Public schools in Santa Fe delayed opening by two hours Tuesday.

  • Today in history Jan. 26
  • HB33 Mill Levy ballots due Tuesday

    County election clerks and judges are currently busy processing the ballots for tomorrow’s count, where it will be determined if the Los Alamos Public Schools will continue to receive about $2 million a year from the taxpayers of Los Alamos County. The tax levy, which has been in place since 1988, has been used by the district to fund equipment and programs it would otherwise have to fund with its Operations Fund.

    All ballots for the HB33 mill levy election are due at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Los Alamos clerk's office has received 4,950 ballots as of Monday at noon. The clerk's office will be open and ballots can be dropped off at 100 Central Ave., Ste. 240.

    Visit the clerk's website at losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/Elections.aspx for more information.